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Ask a Trooper column: Keep golf carts on the course

Question: Is a golf cart to be used mainly to get to and from the golf course or can it be driven all around town on all the streets? Do you need a driver's license?

Answer: Spring must be here as there have been many questions on this subject. To help you settle this topic with your friends I suggest you take a copy of this article to your next coffee session.

First, I believe, a golf cart was designed and intended to be driven on a golf course and not a public road. Now I will not quote the entire statute but provide the needed info to answer your question.

The statute is 169.045 and sb 1 in part states the following: The governing body of any county, home rule charter or statutory city, or town may by ordinance authorize the operation of motorized golf carts on designated roadways or portions thereof under its jurisdiction.

Authorization to operate a motorized golf cart is by permit only.

According to sb 2 the ordinance shall designate the roadways, prescribe the form of the application for the permit, require evidence of insurance complying with the provisions of section 65B.48, sb 5 and may prescribe conditions, not inconsistent with the provisions of this section, under which a permit may be granted.

Permits may be granted for a period of not to exceed one year, and may be annually renewed. A permit may be revoked at any time if there is evidence that the permittee cannot safely operate the motorized golf cart on the designated roadways.

The ordinance may require, as a condition to obtaining a permit, that the applicant submit a certificate signed by a physician that the applicant is able to safely operate a motorized golf cart on the roadways designated. Subdivision 3 states motorized golf carts may only be operated on designated roadways from sunrise to sunset.

They shall not be operated in inclement weather or when visibility is impaired by weather, smoke, fog or other conditions, or at any time when there is insufficient light to clearly see persons and vehicles on the roadway at a distance of 500 feet.

Subdivision 4 states motorized golf carts shall display the slow-moving vehicle emblem provided for in section 169.522, when operated on designated roadways.

According to sb 5 the operator, under permit, of a motorized golf cart may cross any street or highway intersecting a designated roadway. Subdivision 6 requires that every person operating a motorized golf cart under permit has all the rights and duties applicable to the driver of any other vehicle under the provisions of this chapter, except when those provisions cannot reasonably be applied to motorized golf carts and except as otherwise specifically provided in subdivision 7.

Subdivision 7 states the provisions of chapter 171, (driver license law) are not applicable to persons operating motorized golf carts under permit on designated roadways pursuant to this section. Except for the requirements of section 169.70, (rear view mirror required) the provisions of this chapter relating to equipment on vehicles is not applicable to motorized golf carts operating under this permit.

Short version: the town can designate which streets you can drive on and require you to get a permit. As for driving the golf cart to and from the golf course or just up and down any road, "no" that is not allowed. The state of Minnesota has not designated any roadways for use by golf carts. A slow moving vehicle sign is required as is a rear view mirror. You do not need a driver's license to drive the golf cart, by permit, on the designated streets.

Here are some simple tasks to help you avoid being in a crash: Turn on your lights; drive sober; stop talking on the cell phone; slow down and because not every driver out there is as careful as you, buckle up.

If you have any questions concerning traffic related laws in Minnesota send your questions to Trooper Andy Schmidt, Minnesota State Patrol, 1000 Highway 10 West, Detroit Lakes, MN 56501-2205, e-mail